Thursday, June 18, 2009

On “maligning” The Class of ‘78

Reader Herbie sent me through e-mail his comments to “Your Article of June 10 on PMA Class ‘78”. It actually came out on June 11 in this paper. Be that as it may, I have taken the liberty of printing excerpts of his letter, and my brief reply to him.

But first, it just crossed my mind that today is the birthday of Jose Rizal. And I guess the benighted land will hardly remember. Often I have wondered why we honour our heroes more in their death than on the date of their birth. Why do we recall Rizal on December 30, when soldiers of colonial Spain shot him at Bagumbayan? Why do we honour Ninoy Aquino on August 21, when he was assassinated in the tarmac of the airport that now bears his name? How many except family and friends know that Ninoy was born on November 27?

Historians of course will say that it is their martyrdom at the altars of freedom and democracy that we celebrate. And we Christians are also taught that death is glorious because it finally re-unites us with our Divine Maker.

I guess this reasoning also explains why Lupang Hinirang ends with the line, “Ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo” instead of “Ang pumatay ng dahil sa iyo”, or even the more realistic and positive “Ang mabuhay ng dahil sa iyo”. Except that all are basically untrue these days. Who would die for country? Who would kill for country? And worse, who among us truly live by the ideals upon which our forefathers built a country?

* * *
So let me now get to Herbie’s letter (he gave his full name, but as I did not seek his permission to print, I shall protect his full identity. He begins by describing my article as “lopsided”, then states that he “knows these fine officers that you mentioned in your article”. They have “sterling track records in their careers and are very qualified to be in their positions”. (Perhaps they have. I never said they are not qualified, and I am certainly not in a position to swear by sterling records, neither to judge dross from 99.99% pure.)

Herbie has fulsome praises for Chief Superintendent Boysie Rosales, and cites one or two major accomplishments. (A good friend of mine tells me that Rosales is indeed good, but I never said he is not. All I stated is that he and his subordinates as the new NCRPO Chief overdid the handling of the investigation of the suicide of Trina Etong, to the point where ordinary mortals like me wondered if he was following directives from his Dona, his “honorary” mistah in the Class of 1978. In full gore on television, ordinary mortals like me saw how Boysie’s boys harassed and even manhandled Ted Failon’s relatives, and to this day I shudder at the thought of how Boysie’s boys will handle other “oppositionists” and “critics” should Dona Gloria unleash her fury against us.)

Herbie accuses me that “since you have maligned this class, you were not thorough in listing all the generals in the class”. (I did not malign this class. Maybe I was not thorough in listing all the generals in the class. Maybe I forgot some of them. But did I malign the class? Unless associating them with their honorary “mistah” is maligning them.)

He twits me for not mentioning Marine Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban. Forgive me for the oversight. A friend passed on the list to me, and I did not research any further because of deadline pressures. Nor did I mention that several members of the class were instrumental in catching terrorists and other such criminals. Well, I am certain that as this is the task of all who swear by the noble profession of arms in the service of country and people, there are also other fine soldiers and policemen who have done their utmost, not necessarily confined to those who belong to the Class of ’78.

“If this class is truly blessed and favoured, then all of them should be generals right now. But that isn’t the case as the merit system in the AFP promotions program still remains as the reference for promoting any officer to the next rank regardless of whether he is a peemayer or not.”, Herbie states.

Oh yeah? There is no politicization in the promotions system, in this most political of all administrations? Without referring to any PMA class, or any non-PMA class for that matter, shouldn’t I respond to Herbie by saying “Tell that to the Marines”? Just a case in point --- Jonathan Martir has been AWOL for a year and a half, staying in the US of A for such a protracted period. But even a co-layperson in military affairs like Ellen Tordesillas wonders why he is so favoured despite clear impediment, and even touted to be the next commanding general of the Marines.

Then Herbie segues into the “honorary” status of PGMA. He twits me further by stating that “even your ex-boss Erap…along with his sons” are honorary members of other classes.

Now I have always wondered why the Academy has perpetuated this practice of “adopting” politicians and other “honorables” as classmates. Now pray ask, isn’t this akin to the oh so Filipino practice of getting politicians to be “ninongs” and “ninangs” so that, per the “damaged” culture, he or she will be of future help, in promotions and other things?

“And so, sir, please check your facts first before you make your scathing accusations and innuendoes about the PMA Makatarungan Class of 1978”, Herbie tells me. Then he adds, “…I hope you will leave this group alone because they do not deserve this harsh criticism”.

Whatever was so harsh about what I wrote Thursday last week? Unless of course, association with GMA is harsh criticism? Pardon me, but I thought all along they are proud of such association. But then again, the decency in their hearts, probably chafes at the association with one so politically and morally indecent, and for that, assuming it be so, I truly apologize.

Which makes me wonder of course, if PMA Makatarungan Class of 1978 will in the end be “makatarungan” to the people, and not to their honorary class member. All they have to do is remember what they have been taught as cardinal principle in the Academy, “that a cadet does not lie, does not cheat, and does not steal, and will not tolerate the same”. The fundamental basis of “katarungan” after all, is truth. And “truth”, my grade school teacher taught me, is the opposite of “lie”.

And we hapless civilians who live, along with the soldiers and their families in this land benighted by Gloria, can only pray and hope that that principle taught in the Academy will be in their minds before they accept and follow patently illegal and immoral orders that shall come from their “PGMA” (not mine).

* * *

Let me end this weekend article on a happy note.

My good friend and komadre, Adelaida Villaraza Mayo, “Lady” to all of us who count her as one of our dearest friends, was recently installed as Dean of the College of Home Economics of the University of the Philippines.

Lady has a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, followed by a masters’ degree in Philippine Studies, majoring in Society and Culture, and in 2004, she was awarded a doctorate in Philippine Studies, all from that premier center of academic excellence in the country, the UP.

My warmest congratulations to Lady, and of course, to the husband she has lovingly and patiently “put up with”, my school chum Boy, and their only daughter Kyla, now a college student also in the best school in the land.


Anonymous said...

Class 78:

Most of them are armchair-desk officers who are unknown in the AFP until Gloria came in.

Only few in this most-favored class who earned their stars deservingly:

Gen Sabban
Gen Lim

lucio said...

Gen Sabban had participated actively in the 1986, 1987 and 1989 coup attempts. instigated the 2003 oakwood mutiny as well as the marine stand off 0f 2006. Demoted in 1986 for mauling the aide-de-camp (together with lt ariel querubin) of then WESCOM commader Commodore Fernandez. Declared AWOL for a year and a half when assigned in SUBCOM in 1987 to 1988 where he stayed in New Jersey with her sister. You can check his passport and immigration records for that. that requires good investigative journalism on your part.